Earlier this week, popular and charismatic “Cheer” star Jerry Harris was arrested on charges of producing child pornography. According to prosecutors, Harris solicited sexually graphic photos and videos from a 13-year-old boy, among other allegations of having sex with people he knew to be minors. According to reports, Harris met his victims through various cheerleading events. As of the writing of this blog, Harris has not entered a plea.
Accusations of sexual abuse in cheerleading echo recent scandals in several other youth sports programs, including gymnastics and swimming. In each case, measures set up to protect participants fell woefully short. It appears cheerleading is no exception.
A USA Today report claims that 74 registered sex offenders are involved with cheerleading programs in spite of the existence of a list of banned participants. Over 140 individuals associated with the sport have been convicted of sex offenses. The US All-Star Federation, or USASF, and USA Cheer are the main organizations responsible for governing the sport of competitive cheerleading. And although elite-level competitive cheer is a relatively small world, cheerleading in general reaches all levels of participation from youth football, to high school sports, college, and professional sports.
Prior to the publication of the USA Today report, the banned list contained only 21 names. During the investigation and subsequent reporting, the list has ballooned in size.
Once again, focused investigative journalism has apparently exposed the shortcomings of a governing body’s supposed safety measures.
Grewal Law represents survivors of sexual abuse. Our attorneys and staff work tirelessly to promote transparency, accountability, and justice for those who have been betrayed by organizations who should be protecting people, not enabling abusers. We will be watching how this investigation progresses.
Growing up in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nolan Erickson began working at Church Wyble PC in 2007 as a law clerk. Now as an attorney with Grewal Law, Mr. Erickson has developed extensive experience with all phases of trial and pre-trial resolution of personal injury matters, including major auto accident, medical malpractice, and other serious injury cases.